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Moral Values in Post-Christian Europe


smac97

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I just read a blog article describing how the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, has "proclaimed the failure of "state multiculturalism" and announced a policy of promoting a unified British culture in order to defeat radical Islam."

Entering the debate on national identity and religious tolerance, the Prime Minister will declare an end to "passive tolerance" of divided communities, and say that members of all faiths must integrate into wider society and accept core values.

To be British is to believe in freedom of speech and religion, democracy and equal rights regardless of race, sex or sexuality, he will say. Proclaiming a doctrine of "muscular liberalism", he will say that everyone, from ministers to ordinary voters, should actively confront those who hold extremist views.

He will also warn that groups that fail to promote British values will no longer receive public money or be able to engage with the state.

The blogger quoted the above excerpt from a news article, then commented:

What is not clear to me is whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values; and also, whether the weak tea of contemporary liberalism, which has difficulty articulating ideals beyond the equal treatment of women and homosexuals, has enough appeal to counteract the attraction of radical Islam.

I recognize that this thread could devolve into a discussion about Islam, so please do not go there. This thread is not about Islam.

I also recognize that this thread has political overtones, so please do not go there, either. This thread is not about politics.

Instead, I would like to discuss the moral foundation of society in Great Britain (or, for that matter, most nations in Europe). Here are my questions:

1. Is the blogger generally correct in describing Great Britain as "post-Christian?" (See this website, stating that "from 70% of live births in 1920, baptisms have dropped to 20% in 2007.")

2. Can Europe in general be aptly described as "post-Christian?"

3. The blogger above asked "whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values." What value system will step in to fill the void, now that Great Britain is "post-Christian?"

Thanks,

-Smac

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3. The blogger above asked "whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values." What value system will step in to fill the void, now that Great Britain is "post-Christian?"

Thanks,

-Smac

If two people can agree that stealing, murder, rape, arson are not good for their society, then there you have a "value system" which does not have a basis in religion. One does not need religion to understand that the thing listed here in are largely counter productive to unified progress.

#3 seemingly suggest that values can not exist without religion.

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smac97:

I don't see Christianity going away in Europe. It has virtually a 2 millenia head start. My British predecessors painted themselves blue and danced naked around the trees, before going off to fight the Romans.

I don't know about going away. But I see it as becoming so vague as to be unrecognizable in most instances. One is perhaps forced to ask if the universalist church is Christian?

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I don't know about going away. But I see it as becoming so vague as to be unrecognizable in most instances. One is perhaps forced to ask if the universalist church is Christian?

I Agree :P

As Christians, we are suppose to stand out from others. I believe in places such as Great Britain good values are becoming vague and unrecognizable since it's all about tolerance. Live and let live was not a motto of Christ but it is a relevant motto of the world today IMO.

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1. Is the blogger generally correct in describing Great Britain as "post-Christian?" (See this website, stating that "from 70% of live births in 1920, baptisms have dropped to 20% in 2007.")

2. Can Europe in general be aptly described as "post-Christian?"

3. The blogger above asked "whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values." What value system will step in to fill the void, now that Great Britain is "post-Christian?"

I agree with one and two: Europe is pretty-much a secular place.

Regarding point three, I'd call the value system that fills the post-Christian void "secularism". Cameron is calling for secularism to adjust its values with regards to multiculturalism. Cameron at least certainly has enough self-confidence to promote

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I Agree :P

As Christians, we are suppose to stand out from others. I believe in places such as Great Britain good values are becoming vague and unrecognizable since it's all about tolerance. Live and let live was not a motto of Christ but it is a relevant motto of the world today IMO.

I note in the BBC the prime minister of Great Britain stated that multiculturism in the UK has failed.

"Let's properly judge these organisations: Do they believe in universal human rights - including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separatism?

"These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations," he added.

"We have failed to provide a vision of society to which they feel they want to belong. We have even tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values."

Building a stronger sense of national and local identity holds "the key to achieving true cohesion" by allowing people to say "I am a Muslim, I am a Hindu, I am a Christian, but I am a Londoner... too", he said.

BBC

There is a great deal of truth in what he says. The question of tolerance versus benign neglect or acceptance.

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Jeff K.:

I really can't answer for the Universalists, but a generic Christian probably could feel comfortable in that religion. Most people actually do pick and chose what parts of their church's dogma they personally believe.

We LDS carry it a bit further to debating what actually constitutes Church doctrine, and what are merely personal opinions. But we are essentially no different than anyone else in that regard.

blueadept:

Of course anything carried to extreme becomes a vice. But tolerance of what others believe is essential to a functional poly-cultural society such as we have in the US. I doubt many would enjoy the excesses of the Inquisition or the Protestant Reformation.

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1. Is the blogger generally correct in describing Great Britain as "post-Christian?" (See this website, stating that "from 70% of live births in 1920, baptisms have dropped to 20% in 2007.")

2. Can Europe in general be aptly described as "post-Christian?"

My mission was in the Netherlands, and I think they can in fact be accurately described as "post-Christian". Regular Church attendance is rare, and it seems to simply not be a part of regular life for the vast majority of the Dutch. And, of course, that was almost 20 years ago. I very much doubt that things have gotten more Christian in the interim.
3. The blogger above asked "whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values." What value system will step in to fill the void, now that Great Britain is "post-Christian?"
The Netherlands tried to replace it with a sort of live-and-let-live tolerance. They held tolerance as their great ideal and the cultural trait they are most proud of. Apparently they are re-thinking that approach.
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smac97:

I don't see Christianity going away in Europe. It has virtually a 2 millenia head start. My British predecessors painted themselves blue and danced naked around the trees, before going off to fight the Romans.

Do you think your blue-painted ancestors thought that Pagansim would never loose to Christianity, since it had a several millenia head start?

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I just read a blog article describing how the Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron, has "proclaimed the failure of "state multiculturalism" and announced a policy of promoting a unified British culture in order to defeat radical Islam."

I would like to discuss the moral foundation of society in Great Britain (or, for that matter, most nations in Europe). Here are my questions:

1. Is the blogger generally correct in describing Great Britain as "post-Christian?" (See this website, stating that "from 70% of live births in 1920, baptisms have dropped to 20% in 2007.")

2. Can Europe in general be aptly described as "post-Christian?"

3. The blogger above asked "whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values." What value system will step in to fill the void, now that Great Britain is "post-Christian?"

-Smac

You seem to be discussing the modern European tendency toward secular "civil religion" or ideology as a substitute for the moral and ethical standards taught by traditional religion (as a self-critical prophetic voice in society). Indeed, Europeans cannot understand why Americans have not adopted their secular attitude. On that phenomenon generally, see http://en.wikipedia..../Civil_religion .

Western Europe is certainly "post-christian" (note the small "c"), and LDS missionaries have consequently found it a very much less welcoming field in recent decades -- leading to a strong reduction in the numbers of missionaries and a consolidation of missions, along with a shift to other, more productive areas of the world.

The British PM is certainly correct in his analysis (as are the French with their own dilemma of a burgeoning, non-Francophile population of Muslims), and demographic projections suggest that some European nations will be majority Muslim before end of century. Will the Muslims by then have adopted the local, secular civil religion, or will they then impose an Islamic state and sharia law? Will there be a Caliph rather than a PM?

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Jason:

The Romans at the time were not Christian either. So I'm not too sure it was a better trade off. ;)

After that we came from a long line of Catholics until the Protestant Reformation swept England. I'm sure my Catholic side fought against their Protestant brothers and sisters, and visa-versa. Not a fun time. :P

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A kind of ecumenism is overtaking the "West" and has been doing so for decades. The seeds of this are in the Protestant Reformation. You can't utterly overturn the established order and simply forget how that happened. It is continuing to happen: religious people cannot be coerced into an "us and them" attitude if they don't want to believe it. So the churches are not answering the wants of their memberships. The biblical religions are largely outmoded; they address a world view that is not held by most people. This has been occurring even longer than ecumenism. Mormons, imho, are behind the cusp of this "movement"; being more dogmatic and taught a literal "us and them" perspective from the cradle. But even Mormons want to have everyone see themselves as one agreeable religious community. That way missionary work will have a wider venue to operate in; and we all know that we've got at least a thousand years to get everyone converted, so there's no rush: we can afford to play the ecumenical card, even if we don't really believe it (the doctrine says that at the end of the thousand years all unconverted will not make it to heaven, so the doctrine is ultimately "us and them").

With Christianity largely relegated to a nullity by popular disinterest, the West's "religion" is enlightened secularism; "humanism" some will call it. This is not de facto a bad thing; non religious people in my experience are not a whit less honest, moral or prone to lives of integrity than religious people are. But we are definitely in a rapid state of flux: nobody can tell whether or not dumping Jesus Christ is going to produce no perceivable change in the moral base of society, or result instead in hell on earth. For myself, I expect less religious angst, less bigotry, more acceptance, and a less interesting diversity in the future, as the main features of a Christianityless culture. This of course could result in some other religion forcing itself into the vacuum. Mormonism is a possibility; but so is radical Islam. But if Europeans, "Westerners" generally, are lacking interest in Christianity because they lack interest in religion, then Islam won't make any headway either. Then the only way Europe will change radically is by population shift; the Muslims can breed everyone out....

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1. Is the blogger generally correct in describing Great Britain as "post-Christian?" (See this website, stating that "from 70% of live births in 1920, baptisms have dropped to 20% in 2007.")

2. Can Europe in general be aptly described as "post-Christian?"

3. The blogger above asked "whether a post-Christian Great Britain has enough self-confidence to promote its own values." What value system will step in to fill the void, now that Great Britain is "post-Christian?

Here's my European take:

1. Depends on which dimension of Christianity you're looking at. If you're thinking about going to church and getting your kids baptized, I'd say yes, England and most of northern Europe is post-Christian. But there is a cultural dimension to Christianity as well. This is alive and kicking in Northern Europe. In fact, the Christianity-Islam dichotomy is a cultural clash, not a religious one.

2. See point 1, I'd restrict such a description to northern Europe.

3. The golden rule is universal and, in my honest opinion, enough to make any society worth living in.

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